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One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is retaining and recruiting good employees who are in it for the long haul. The number of years an average worker stays with an employer stands at just over four years. 

Despite that number remaining fairly steady over the past decade, many organizations are feeling the pinch of a tight labor market and watching some tenured employees being lured away by seemingly better opportunities. 

Having a robust employee recruitment and retention strategy requires having a robust and attentive HR department. Whether you have an HR department of one, a staff of many, or even if someone has simply taken on the HR responsibilities in addition to a different full-time role, here are some tips and best practices that can help you get the most out of your HR efforts. 

1. Review Compensation and Benefits 

Benchmarking with others in your region and industry isn’t always an easy task, but keeping a pulse on the salaries and perks that your competitors offer is a strategic and crucial part of attracting recruits and keeping your existing employees happy. If you’re used to giving small raises every year, you may need to reconsider that approach in light of recent data. A bigger jump in wages and salaries is expected for 2019 that will likely outpace most employers' expectations and rise by more than 3%, with top performers expecting even larger pay raises. 

Benefits packages, often a major influence in a person’s decision to accept a position, also need to be reviewed. Offering good health insurance and competitive retirement packages are a good place to start, but platinum-level benefits aren’t always feasible for smaller businesses on tight budgets. Offer the best benefits package possible, but look for ways to get creative that can set you apart from others in your industry. 

2. Communicate and Foster a Strong Culture 

You don’t have to necessarily offer the highest pay to retain loyal, productive employees. Some experts argue that job seekers care more about the culture and working environment they’ll be a part of every day than they do about the details written on a job offer.

When recruiting, it’s crucial to clearly communicate the values, beliefs, behaviors and experiences that define your organization. Even more important is that those characteristics are authentically lived out among every employee — it’s one thing to talk about a good culture and another to actually have one. Instilling a sense of purpose and a family atmosphere, empowering employees and creating work/life balance are just the start. Creating an engaging culture won’t happen overnight, but it definitely needs to happen if you want to maximize your HR efforts and maintain a strong and dedicated workforce. 

3. Develop Talent from Within 

Companies that struggle to find skilled labor often overlook the potential inside their own walls. Developing talent from within can help fill difficult positions and increase retention efforts. Target employees who have leadership potential and give them a vision for how they can contribute to the company and boost their personal career goals. 

Provide mentors, career coaches and training opportunities to learn new skills, including paying for relevant classes and certifications. Help your team build their professional networks and develop soft skills to improve their communication and social interactions. Share about your company’s personal and professional development initiatives with candidates as well, which can be a key aspect when considering a new career with your company. 

As someone who oversees HR functions, don’t forget to focus on your own career. Consider how you can improve your HR skills and look for ways to leverage the expertise of others who can enhance your efforts. 

4. Implement Wellness Initiatives 

Promoting wellness among your employees isn’t just good for their personal health, it plays a critical role in the financial health of your organization. Healthcare costs continue to rise, and implementing a holistic wellness program is a strategic approach to mitigating the risk of escalating premiums. 

Promoting wellness initiatives to potential recruits communicates once again that you care about their personal well-being in addition to their professional performance, and it can be a deciding factor for those weighing their options between you and another employer. 

5. Ensure Compliance 

Compliance with the multiple regulations for employers can feel like a full-time job itself. Potential changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), updates for OSHA reporting, determining the exemption status of employees, knowing your state’s rules for workers’ compensation, and more can overwhelm even seasoned HR professionals. 

While compliance may seem like a back-office function at first glance, it plays a major role in recruiting and retaining employees. Know what questions you should and shouldn’t ask during interviews, respond to employee requests for information in a timely manner, maintain accurate and secure employee records, handle complaints and harassment claims properly, and follow best practices for maintaining an employee handbook. When employees and recruits see a commitment to compliance, they feel more confident knowing they will be treated fairly and that any concerns will be taken seriously.

6. Embrace Technology and Analytics 

Enable your organization to assess and manage a wide range of experiences for your team by leveraging a Human Capital Management (HCM) system. Many HR departments use software to manage payroll, but those platforms are often inadequate for managing tax forms, employee records, OSHA logs and other information. A robust HCM automates many functions and integrates with payroll. It also provides a secure portal where employees can manage time off requests and other criteria, and have visibility into their personal information. 

7. Understand Your Organization’s Strategic Goals 

Today’s HR professionals are responsible for more than employees; they also need to understand and help drive the strategic direction and economic environment of an organization. By becoming more financially fluent and knowing what makes your organization successful, your HR department can anticipate necessary workforce changes that may be required and implement an action plan to meet your company’s needs. 

The responsibilities of today’s HR professionals and their role in maintaining a happy and healthy workforce can’t be summarized in a single article. Be sure to access our HR Best Practices Checklist below for more ideas, and reach out to our team with questions or to discuss ways to enhance your efforts even further.

HR Best Practice Checklist

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.